Past candidate suggests he fill Garrett's position

Others say leave assembly seat open until October election

Posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2000

With Tom Garrett's imminent departure from the Juneau Assembly on July 10, former political opponent Jim Demers is offering himself up as a replacement.

Garrett announced Monday that he is leaving the state for a position with an advertising firm in Phoenix.

Demers lost his bid to unseat Garrett in last fall's race for an areawide seat by 101 votes.

``I feel I'm uniquely qualified to fill this seat because of all the homework I've done,'' Demers said.

If the assembly chooses to name a replacement, city code calls for a majority vote, with the interim term ending at the next regular election. Whoever is elected to the seat this October will occupy it for the two years left of Garrett's three-year term.

Assembly member Cathy Munoz said if the assembly were to decide to fill the seat, she would support Demers ``because he was the next highest vote-getter in the last election.''

But Munoz has talked with several other members, she said, and thinks the general sentiment in the assembly is to leave the seat open until the fall election.

``If we appoint anybody, it would be only for a couple of meetings until the election,'' member Dwight Perkins said. ``I've talked with a couple of members and they have the same feeling -- we ought to leave (the seat) open.''

Member Frankie Pillifant was wary that a majority-appointed candidate would have an incumbent's edge in the fall election, and that that candidate might not be one she favored.

A consultation with the city attorney about the significance -- or lack of it -- of leaving the seat open for the remaining half-dozen assembly meetings before the election leaves her leaning toward that option, Pillifant said.

Member Don Etheridge Jr. said he thought that with the few meetings left until the election, it would be hard for an interim member to get up to speed.

``Areawide voters need some representation,'' Demers said, adding that he had no intention of going off to sunny climes.

``I'd be glad to represent the people of the rainforest,'' he said.

The topic of Garrett's succession will likely be taken up at the next scheduled assembly meeting on July 10.

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